WorkBurst for Mac Makes You Productive in 25-Minute Spurts

This player is used on Facebook and anytime it's embedded outside of our sites.

Have a pressing task at hand but just can’t focus? A new Mac OS X app will free you from distractions and use a psychological trigger to help you power through your work. WorkBurst ($.99) jacks up your MacBook’s screen to 100 percent brightness for bursts of 25 minutes at a time so your brain gets the hint that it’s time to work.

The app is based on the Pomodoro time management technique, which emphasizes frequent breaks. With no other restrictions in place to prevent you from straying, is this straightforward app the right tool to help you work more efficiently? We went hands-on with WorkBurst and found it basic but helpful.

MORE: iPad Pro: 5 Killer Features We Want

WorkBurst operates on the premise that knowing you just need to focus for 25 minutes is enough to motivate you to work for that duration. It doesn’t block other apps from running, nor does it stop you from Facebooking or tweeting. The menu bar app was designed to be simple, creator Dann Berg told us. As long as you have “Automatically adjust brightness” unchecked in your Display settings, all you have to do is pick a task, hit Start on the menu bar and get to work. 


workburst controls 524x400

Setting up the app was easy enough. After installation, all we had to do was prepare ourselves mentally for the task ahead and hit Start under the alarm clock icon on our title bar. Our display was immediately bumped up to an almost-blinding 100 percent, which we could thankfully adjust by hitting the relevant buttons on our keyboard.

During the 25 minutes, an unobtrusive countdown remains in the menu bar, showing us just how much longer until our next break. When the time was up, an alarm (a simple “Ding”) sounded to let us know it was time for a break, and our screen dimmed to 20 percent. By default, each 25-minute duration is followed by a 5-minute break (every fourth break is 10 minutes long).

The darker screen signals to your brain that it’s time to rest, and you are encouraged to walk around and relax your eyes. If you want, you can still use your computer or increase its brightness.

We found that the most effective way to use WorkBurst was to just power up our Mac, open the task (be it a document,  spreadsheet or slideshow) and hit Start. If you decide to start on a task while already on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it can be difficult to tear yourself away, and notifications from those sites can still distract you because WorkBurst doesn’t silence them.

In essence, using WorkBurst is almost no different from setting your own alarm on your smartphone, but it’s much more convenient. You don’t have to think about how long to work for, plus the interface is built into your Mac so your eyes never have to leave the screen. Having the screen brightness indicate the difference between work and play is also a nifty touch.

If you need apps that actively block specific programs while you work, consider Concentrate ($29) or Anti-Social ($15). Strict Overflow, a free Chrome add-on, also uses the Pomodoro technique to spur your productivity, and offers a blacklist option to block sites.

Strict Overflow doesn’t adjust your screen’s brightness though, and while it blocks popular sites by default, you’ll still have to enter some pages into your blacklist before getting to work. If you can depend on your fear of missing a deadline to focus, WorkBurst is a solid solution.

AUTHOR BIO
Cherlynn Low
Cherlynn Low
Cherlynn joined the Laptopmag team in June 2013 and has since been writing about all things tech and digital with a focus on mobile and Internet software development. She also edits and reports occasionally on video. She graduated with a M.S. in Journalism (Broadcast) from Columbia University in May 2013 and has been designing personal websites since 2001.
Cherlynn Low on
Twitter Google+
LEAVE A REPLY
Name*
Email* (will not be published)
Website
*Indicates required field
Comments*
Submit Comments

FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE